Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What Decatur Needs

Decatur has an official logo.

Image result for decatur georgia logo 

Decatur has an official motto.

A city of homes, schools
and places of worship.

You might think that these are quite bland.
(Compare ours to, say, Claxton, Georgia:
the Fruitcake capital of the world.)

The logo and motto don't distinguish our great city from any other.

Decatur has some unofficial mottos that I would regard as improvements.

It’s greater in Decatur.

Decatur: where Mayberry meets Berkeley.

Image result for decatur there's a festival for that     

If you have ever had a conversation with anyone from the city about the quality of the logo or the motto you quickly realize that there is no desire to change these things given all the logistical issues that would be involved.

So what Decatur needs is a new symbol.
A new means of signifying its identity.
Decatur needs …


Why A Flag?

Why a flag? you ask.

Well ...

Flags can signal an identity.

Image result for lgbt rainbow flag
LBGT Rainbow Flag

Flags can unite people.
Image result for flag of singapore soccer match
Flag of Singapore

Flags can be fun.
Image result for fun with flags
from Big Bang Theory

And flags can be really, really cool.
Image result for flag perm russia
Flag of Perm, Russia

 A poorly designed flag is none of the above.

Do you recognize this flag?

Image result for flag atlanta

Probably not. It's the flag of the city of Atlanta.
I don't know if I've ever seen it flying

What Makes for a Good Flag?

What makes for a good flag?

There is actually an organization that thinks about such things. The North American Vexillological Association is devoted to the scientific and scholarly study of flags. What appears to be their most recent survey of city flags was done in 2004 and can be found here. Their second favorite American city flag is the following:

Image result for flag chicago

Why is this flag considered so effective? Using the five basic principles of flag design as promulgated by NAVA, Chicago's flag works because:

1.  The design is simple. Anyone could draw this on a small sheet of paper within a minute and other people -- at least other Chicagoans -- would be able to recognize it.

2.  It incorporates meaningful symbolism. The three white stripes represent the North, West, and South Sides of the city. The top blue stripe represents Lake Michigan and the North Branch of the Chicago River while the other signifies the South Branch and associated canals. The four distinctive six-sided stars honor four major events in the city’s history: Fort Dearborn, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the Century of Progress Exposition of 1933–34. On occasion someone proposes a fifth star. IT WOULD DEFINITELY HAPPEN if the Cubs ever win another World Series.

3. It uses just three basic colors. The fewer the better. NAVA's favorite city flag uses only two.

Image result for flag washington dc
Flag of Washington, D.C.
 4. There is no lettering. There are no seals. Such things tend to be difficult to read, do not reduce well, and do not translate on the reverse side.

5.  It's distinctive. Chicago's flag has unique six-pointed stars. While the flag is red, white, and blue, the shade of blue is distinct from that used in the American flag.

If you go to Chicago you will see the city's flag.
It's everywhere, such as

Image result for flag chicago flying
flying besides all municipal buildings,

Image result for flag chicago cops
police wear it on their sleeves,

Image result for flag chicago hats
on apparel,

Image result for flag chicago mugs
and all kinds of other stuff.
Further, folks alter the design to create all kinds of cool things.
Image result for flag chicago tattooImage result for flag chicagoImage result for flag chicagoImage result for flag chicago bicycle

Even if some of it might be unwanted.

Image result for flag chicago marijuana

It's Time For A Flag!!!

It's Time For A Flag!!!

There are places which have undergone efforts to change their existing flag, most notably Milwaukee (which may eventually succeed) and New Zealand (which won't). Change can be hard, even if you flag contains an image of County Stadium, home of the Milwaukee Braves!

Image result for flag milwaukee
Yes, there are people who didn't like this.
There aren't many examples out there regarding the process by which a city that never had a flag adopts one, but it did happen recently in Albany, Oregon.

If Decatur were to do this, the following would be important:

1.  Get buy in - from residents, city officials, and the local arts community;

2.  Set up a timeline - relatively short, with a goal of June 14, 2017 (that's Flag Day!) as a final deadline for adoption;

3.  Open up the design process to everyone;

4.  Use experts to narrow the selection; and

5.  Open up the final vote to all residents;

Anyone interested in this?

If so, contact

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Poetry & Wine Book Group

The Poetry & Wine Book Group meets monthly, typically (but not always) on the third Friday at 7 p.m.

This is an open group. There is no need to call ahead. Just read and show up.Bring a bottle of wine (or bourbon or whatever) or a dessert of some sort to share if you wish. Folks share their favorite poems and we have truly wonderful discussions.

What we're reading:
May 13th, 2016 - Dead Man's Float by Jim Harrison

What we've read:
April 15th, 2016 - The Best American Poetry 2015, edited by Sherman Alexie

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Storefront Saturday in Decatur!

This event will be held on April 23rd from noon to 5 p.m.

We'll update this post as more information becomes available.

Who's participating?

Bleu Hanger
Boutique Karma
Furry Tails
Little Shop of Stories
Natural Body
Splash of Olive
Squash Blossom
The Great Frame Up
Treehouse Kid and Craft
Tres Jolie
Trinity Mercantile & Design
Wild Oats & Billy Goats
Worthmore Jewelers

Friday, March 18, 2016

Welcoming Marcus Zusak

Marcus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, spoke in Atlanta last night at the William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum as part of his tour celebrating the tenth anniversary of his acclaimed novel. He was introduced by Little Shop bookseller Krista Gilliam. Her remarks are included below.

Good evening! I’m Krista Gilliam, a bookseller at Little Shop of Stories, an independent bookstore located in downtown Decatur.  It’s my great pleasure to welcome you to the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum to celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I’d like to thank the Breman Museum for partnering with us on this event and for providing this beautiful venue.

At Little Shop of Stories, we feature hundreds of events a year, and host countless authors promoting their recent books. We love being able to introduce our customers to new books and connect them with authors. But there is something extra special about tonight, because we aren’t here to learn about a new book, or to meet the author of a book that’s just recently appeared on The New York Times bestseller list.

The Book Thief was published ten years ago. And somehow this room is still packed with people who have been impacted by this beautiful, haunting story. We are gathering tonight because this is a book that has changed us, inspired us, touched us. It’s a book we’ve handed to our brothers or teachers or students or friends and said. This book. You have to read this book. We are here, ten years later, because it has stayed with us. It isn’t just a story; it’s become our story.

The Book Thief is a book that breaks us. Despite all of Death’s warnings and foreshadowing throughout the pages, when the bombs hit Himmel Street, it is as if they are falling on our own hearts. I found myself completely broken when I reached the end of this book. I felt raw and overwhelmed and hyper-aware of the world and my tiny place in it. And I would bet that we all had a similar response to this story. This is a book that opens us up to the suffering of others. It forces us to look directly at terrible tragedy and to sit with pain. It teaches us empathy, and makes us feel, two things that are crucial to the human experience.

This is also a book that gives us hope for the future. It is about the ability to overcome brutality, and about the power of humanity, and about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. My husband and I were reminded of the hope of this book as we brainstormed names for our baby girl. We thought of all the characteristics we wanted our daughter to have--we wanted her to be brave and kind and tough and compassionate. We wanted her to be able to see beauty even in the midst of suffering. We wanted her to love books. And we remembered the girl from The Book Thief.

Today, my daughter Liesel is one and half years old, and one day when she’s old enough, I will hand her a copy The Book Thief to read herself. In the book, Max and Liesel literally write their own stories, and The Book Thief reminds us of the blank pages of life ahead of us, and the chance we all have to fill them with stories of beauty and hope and purpose.

I heard a quote recently by Frederick Buechner that I think sums up The Book Thief perfectly:

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”

Thank you, Markus Zusak, for showing us the beauty and tragedy of the world, for sharing Liesel and Max and Rudy and Hans with us, for helping us not to be afraid, for inspiring us and changing us. We are here tonight because we love your book. Here’s to another ten years of The Book Thief.